Thursday, April 30, 2009

A St. Louis Cricket Reference From 1852

Harry Doyer is trying his hardest to entice the boys into the formation of a Cricket Club, but as the game is not understood-more's the pity-they hang fire confoundedly.
-Spirit of the Times, Aug 7, 1852

This brief note from Spirit of the Times' St. Louis correspondent is rather significant.  It's the earliest reference to any kind of bat and ball game in St. Louis that I've yet found and gives us a better understanding of what Edmund Tobias meant when he talked about the general popularity of cricket and town ball during the antebellum era. 

We know that there were at least two cricket clubs in St. Louis by 1858 and now we can assume that the first clubs were formed sometime between 1852 and 1858.  When Tobias wrote that cricket had a strong hold on lovers of sport in St. Louis, he most likely was speaking only from personal experience.  Born in New York, Tobias didn't move to St. Louis until sometime in 1860 when he was in his mid-twenties.  So by the time he got to the city, cricket had already established itself and there were multiple clubs.  The game continued to be popular in St. Louis throughout most of his adult life.  So when he was writing his history of early St. Louis baseball in 1895, Tobias was correct to say that the game of cricket had "long had a strong hold" in St. Louis.  But what he was specifically trying to say was that cricket had been played in the antebellum period and predated the New York game in St. Louis.

If my reading of this is correct and cricket wasn't played in St. Louis to any great extent prior to 1852 then I think it's reasonable to suggest that base ball predated cricket in the city.  With nostalgic references in 1860 to base ball and town ball as "old" and an understanding that these were long-standing folk games that didn't spring up overnight, I have to believe that the game was being played in some form prior to 1852.   

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Juvenile Cricket Match

Yesterday was a holiday for the young folks.  All the children of the public schools, numbering some two or three thousand, accompanied by their parents and teachers, went out to the Fair Grounds and spent the day in sports best suited to their years...

A cricket club, composed of boys, from twelve to fifteen years of age, had a fine spirited game during the day, and handled the bat almost as well as the members of the St. Louis Club...
-St. Louis Daily Bulletin, May 26, 1860

This is interesting in that it's my understanding that generally speaking cricket during this era was played by adults while the kids were playing base ball.  It's possible that this match was inspired by the excitement surrounding the St. Louis/Chicago cricket match earlier in the month.  Also of note is that this is one of the very few antebellum references in the St. Louis papers to children playing sports.  The only other one I'm aware of is a 1859 article in the Missouri Republican that mentioned several youth activities, including shiny and mumbly peg.  

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Cricket Match At Gamble's Lawn

A match took place yesterday at Gamble's grounds, between the Prairie Cricket Club of Chicago, and the St. Louis Cricket Club.  There was a large number of spectators present, and among them a goodly number of the fair sex, who appeared to be as anxious as the players themselves for the result of the game.  First innings, Chicago, 98.  First innings, St. Louis 115.  Second Innings of the Chicago, 85.  The game will be resumed today, and we will give our readers a full report of the match.
-St. Louis Daily Bulletin, May 3, 1860

Grand Cricket Match-The Prairie Cricket club of Chicago against the St. Louis Club-The St. Louis Boys Defeated.-A grand match commenced between eleven of the Prairie Club of Chicago, and eleven of the St. Louis Cricket Club, on Wednesday, at ten o'clock, at Gamble's Park, south of Clark avenue, and closed yesterday about one o'clock.  A large crowd was present both days, including many ladies, who watched the game with much interest.  The Chicago cricketers are all good looking young men, and seem to be familiar with the bat and ball.  Their uniform is white pants, blue frock shirt, white cap with blue trimming.  The dress of the St. Louis boys is similar, excepting the frock, which is white.  Most of our St. Louis cricketers are new at the game, yet it will be seen by the scoring that they played well.  The umpire for the Chicago club was S.P. Oldershame; scorer, C.J. Bloomfield; umpire of the St. Louis Club, Thomas Bennington; scorer E.M. Joel...
-St. Louis Daily Bulletin, May 4, 1860

The St. Louis club scored 48 in its second inning, ending the match.  

This is another example of Gamble Lawn, one of the earliest baseball grounds in St. Louis, being used for cricket.  Also of interest is the fact that this was a match between St. Louis and Chicago clubs.  While the St. Louis/Chicago baseball rivalry wouldn't begin until after the Civil War, this is evidence that sporting clashes between the two cities predated the war.    

Friday, April 24, 2009

A Charming Contest

One of those charming contests for athletic superiority came off yesterday afternoon, upon the grounds of the "Empire," between the Union and Lone Star clubs.  The day was exceedingly fine, and the play drew a large number of spectators, who appeared to enjoy the sport almost as much as those directly engaged in it.  The match was contested with much spirit, increasing to the close, when victory perched on the banner of the Union...
-St. Louis Daily Bulletin, October 9, 1860

The Union was up 24-19 going into the ninth when the Lone Stars scored four runs.  It must have been a rather exciting half inning.  In the bottom of the ninth, the Union scored 17 runs to make the final score 41-23.  

Playing for the Union was J. Freeman, c; J. Greenleaf, p; E. Finny, 1b; W. Freeman, 2b; R. Niggerman, 3b; A. Smith, ss; A. Hamelton, lf; R. Reinck, cf; and F. Billon, rf.  Playing for the Lone Stars was R. Duncan, c; J.M. Jacobs, p (who scored no runs, made seven outs, and gave up 41); W. Dukes, 1b; Jas. Burk, 2b; Jas. McGin, 3b; W. Duncan, ss; J. Phillip, lf; T.C. Smith, cf; and A.G. Duke, rf.   

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Some Friendly Matches

A friendly match was played on Saturday west of the Fair Grounds, between the Tiger and the Lone Star Clubs, resulting in the success of the latter Club.
-St. Louis Daily Bulletin, October, 1, 1860

A friendly match will be played, this afternoon, on the Empire grounds, between the "Union" and "Lone Star" clubs.

To-morrow afternoon a match will be played between the "Empire" and "Commercial" clubs.
-St. Louis Daily Bulletin, October 6, 1860

The Tiger Club was a new one to me.  Had never heard of them.  But including the Tigers, we now know of nine antebellum baseball clubs in St. Louis.  

Back In Town

I was unexpectedly out of town the last week and have been pretty much out of touch with the website and the world.  Spotty internet connection and all that.  I apologize for being late in posting the comments and in not responding to them yet.  But I'm back and everything's normal again.

If I had finished setting up a Twitter account and linked the blog to that (which I'm thinking about doing), I could have posted updates from my phone (which was almost the only internet connection I had over the last week).  This kind of stuff is forcing me to look into some kind of mobile broadband network for my laptop.  I may have to call Sprint.     

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

This Fine Game

Base Ball.-This fine game we are pleased to see is becoming very popular in our city, and it is to be hoped the interest taken in it will continue unabated.  The young men here are very much confined by business, and some of them really need out of door exercise of some kind, and we know of no innocent sport which is healthier or more interesting than the game of base ball.  At present there are some five or six clubs in existence, each having from thirty to forty members, and it is understood two or three more clubs are now forming, and it is presumed others will be created from time to time, and the thousands of sickly looking young men and boys now to been around town will begin to look hale and hearty, something like the iron-nerved man of fifty years ago were wont to look.  And right here we will say to the ladies, that they can do much towards advancing their healthy exercise by encouraging the players with their divine presence.  They may go out to the play grounds and run no risk of having harsh or ungentlemanly language grate in their ears, for the rules of all clubs are very strict, and no one who does not know how to behave like a gentleman can be admitted.  It is currently reported around town that the Commercial will play the Empire Club during Fair week.  Should a match be made between the clubs, some extra playing may be expected.  The Empire's have thus far held the champion bat, but they will have to be on alert when they come in contact with the Commercial boys, or it will be taken from them.
-St. Louis Daily Bulletin, September 18, 1860 

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Return Match

Base Ball-Empire vs. Morning Star.-The return match was played between the Empire and Morning Star Clubs last evening, between Twenty-first and High streets, and resulted in favor of the former.  The large crowd in attendance seemed to take great interest in the game, and frequently applauded the players when an extra play was made, but we regret to say that a great many boys and others, of whom we should have expected better conduct, crowded around the scorers so as to make it almost impossible for them to keep an account of the game.  It was utterly impossible for them to make a correct report of the fielding, and they soon abandoned the attempt.  We give below a list of the runs made, and believe it to be correct.  Soon after the game began, two of the players attempted to catch a ball on the fly, and one of them, Mr. W.A. Hudson, was struck in the pit of the stomach by the other player's knee, and was so disabled that he had to quit, and his place was filled by Mr. D.H. Naylor.
-St. Louis Daily Bulletin, September 15, 1860

The final score of the game was 37-18 in favor of the Empire Club.  Playing for the Empires that day was Henley, Reynolds, Williams, Higgins, Coyle, Walton (who made seven outs), F. Kern, Barret, and Connell.  Playing for the Morning Stars was R. Henry, Burke, Naylor, Duff, Case, W. Henry, J. Henry, Rawsot, Franklin, and the injured Hudson.  The batting record of the Morning Stars is incomplete because there is no mention of Hudson, who may have scored runs and who definitely made three outs in the game.  So the Morning Stars could have actually scored more than 18 runs.  William Sanford, of the Commercial Club, was the umpire.

The reference to the attempted fly catch is interesting but I really can't speak intelligently about what it means.  I have no idea how rare a fly catch would have been in an 1860 St. Louis baseball game.  If I had to guess, I'd say that they were uncommon.  However, I think the reference is really meant to highlight the injury of Hudson rather than the attempted fly catch.  

I also like the fact that it's September 1860 and we're already have problems with the rowdies.   

Monday, April 20, 2009

Boys Versus Men

At an early hour yesterday morning a number of people assembled on the vacant grounds near Twentieth and Biddle streets, to witness a match game of base ball, between the Excelsior and Lone Star Clubs-boys vs. men.  The contest terminated in favor of the men of the Excelsior Club.
-St. Louis Daily Bulletin, August 17, 1860

The score of the match was 49-16.  Playing for the Excelsiors was Hamilton, Noerr (or Noett), Hamilton, Hanck, Taylor (or Tayler), Hudson, Linneman, Hamilton, and Wolfan (and Wolfun).  Playing for the Lone Stars was Laferty, Duncan, Duncan, Smith, Plum, W. Dukes, N. Dukes, Jacobs, and Maginn.   Frederick Kern, of the Empire Club, was the umpire.   

A couple of interesting things here.  First, the Lone Star Club was unknown to me and therefore adds to our list of known antebellum St. Louis baseball clubs.  Second, I have no idea of whether "men vs. boys" refers to the difference in the skill level of the two clubs as reflected in the final score or whether if this was actually a match played between grown men and what was, essentially, a junior club.  Finally, we have another game played at the Laclede Grounds.  Good times.    

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Empire Club Plays The Winner

A number of friends of the Empire and Morning Star Base Ball Club collected on the Laclede grounds on Twenty-seventh and Biddle streets, yesterday morning, to witness a match game between the two clubs.  Each club displayed a great deal of skill during the three hours they played, at the end of which the Empire Club was declared victorious.
-St. Louis Daily Bulletin, July 18, 1860

The score of the game, which one has to assume was the second match game played in St. Louis, was 41-33.  Playing for the Empires was John Barrett, John Williams, William Henley, B.J. Higgins, James Fitzgerald, John Waltour, Dan Coyle, John Reynolds, and Pat Cooney.  Playing for the Morning Star was Robert Henry, Charles Scudder, David Naylor, Joh Henry, Case, Martin Burke, William Henry, R. Wilson, and Finney.

The Laclede Grounds, according to Tobias, was the home of the Laclede Club "an early club made up from master mechanics." 

What really stood out to me when I first read this game account was the fact that the match lasted three hours, which is pretty much how long a baseball game lasts today.  Of course if two modern clubs scored seventy runs between them, the game would last about thirty hours.      

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Great Match Of Base Ball

To-day a great match between the Sycamore (sic) and Morning Star base ball clubs will take place in the field immediately west of the Fair Grounds.  The game will be played according to the rules of the National Convention of ball players.  The match will commence precisely at four o'clock p.m., and will undoubtedly be the greatest game ever played in this city.
  -St. Louis Daily Bulletin, July 9, 1860

The Great Match of Base Ball-Victory By The Morning Star Club.-The announcement that the first match of base ball ever played in St. Louis would take place on Monday afternoon on the field west of the Fair Grounds, between the Cyclones and Morning Star Clubs, was sufficient to call out a large number of spectators, among whom were several ladies.  A very great interest was manifested by all present, who expressed their delight at the many instances of fine play displayed by both clubs.  The match resulted in the victory of the Morning Star by twenty-six runs...
-St. Louis Daily Bulletin, July 11, 1860

The score of the match, as given by the Bulletin, was 50-24.  Playing for the Cyclones was Peters, ss; Alfred Bernoudy, c.f.; Merritt Griswold, p.; Edward Farrish, 3rd b.; Gamble (either Joseph or Rufus), c.;  Maurice Alexander, 1st b.; Fitch, 2nd b.; Edward Bernoudy, l.f.; and Edward Bredell, r.f.  Playing for the Morning Stars was Robert Henry, c.; Archibald Duff, 1st b.; David Naylor, r.f.; Case, 2nd b.; William Henry, s.s.; Finney, p.; John Henry, c.f.; Wilson, 3rd b.; and Rawson, l.f.  Peters and Fitch of the Cyclones and Case, Finney, Wilson, and Rawson of the Morning Star are all unidentified at the moment.

The scorers for the game was Jonathan Collier of the Cyclone Club and Joseph Franklin of the Morning Stars.  The umpire was S.L. Putnam, "formerly of the Metropolitan Club, New York."

This account of the game is similar to the one in the July 17, 1860 edition of Porter's Spirit of the Times, although they gave the final score as 49-24.  Since I haven't posted that account, I will now rectify the situation:

Base Ball At St. Louis, Mo.-The first game of base that was ever played West of the Mississippi, under the rules of the National Association, was played at St. Louis, on Monday, the 9th inst; between the Morning Star  and Cyclone Clubs.

We now have three contemporary sources for the Cyclone/Morning Star match, including the notice of the game in the Daily Missouri Democrat.  All three essentially agree that it was the first match game played in St. Louis under the rules of the National Association.  So I'm thinking we can call that a settled fact.  

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Challenge Of The Empire Club

Empire Base Ball Club.-At the regular monthly meeting of this Club, held at their hall, corner of Third and Vine streets, on the 3d day of July, the following officers were duly elected: B.J. Higgins, President; Peter Naylor, Vice-President; John F. Walton, Secretary; Patrick Cooney, Treasurer.  The following preamble and resolution was also adopted:

Whereas, the Slycome (sic) and Morning Star Clubs are matched for a game on the 9th inst; therefore

Resolved, that the Empire Base Ball Club challenge the winning party.  If not accepted by them, then this challenge be extended to any Ball club in Missouri.
-St. Louis Daily Bulletin, July 7, 1860

This is, at the moment, the earliest contemporary reference to the Empire Club, which according to various sources organized in April of 1860.  

One interesting thing here is the election of officers.  According to Al Spink, the Empire Club elected officers at their first meeting on April 16th and the list of officers that Spink provides is completely different than the one provided here.  Was this a second election or was Spink in error?  

Also of interest is that the article fails to mention Joseph Hollenback, who according to Tobias was instrumental in the organization of the club.  My feelings about Hollenback and his role in the development of baseball in St. Louis are unsettled and I am not willing to provide him the place of prominence that some others would like.  This article does nothing to change my feelings.         

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Organization Of The Commercial Club

The Commercial Base Ball Club was organized on Thursday evening and the following officers elected: W.W. Sanford, President; B. Davidson, Vice-President; Eugene Karst, Secretary and Treasurer.  Directors-David Hutcheson, John Cross, John Scott.  The ground selected is on Ham street, between Chouteau avenue and Hickory street.  The Club will play on Tuesday and Friday evenings at 5 o'clock, and Thursday mornings at 4 1/2 o'clock.
-St. Louis Daily Bulletin, June 16, 1860

Edmund Tobias, who before joining the Empire Club was a member of the Commercial Club, wrote that the Commercials were one of the first clubs formed in St. Louis and that the club was made up of young businessmen.  The club broke up when Sanford took a commission in the army at the outbreak of the Civil War.  

This is also the only contemporary reference that I've found to the Ham Street Grounds.  According to Tobias, the grounds were used by the Cyclones, the Commercials, and the Unions during the antebellum era.      

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Good Old Social Game Of Base Ball

The good old social game of base ball, which we used so much to delight in when a student, and which, semi-occasionally, we have indulged in since arriving at man's estate, is fast becoming one of the most popular pastimes among us.  On Monday night a base ball club was organized, with twenty-four members, under the style of the "Morning Star Club."  The following officers were elected: President-J.R. Naylor; Vice-President-R. Henry; Secretary-Geo. Franklin; Directors-C.C. Ferguson, R.H. Franklin and Chas. Scudder.

The club will meet every morning for practice.  We wish them much enjoyment, and shall accept their kind invitation to take a game when convenient.
  -St. Louis Daily Bulletin, June 6, 1860

This is the earliest contemporary reference that we now have of the formation of a St. Louis baseball club.  While there are sources that place the founding of the Cyclone Club in the summer of 1859 and the Empire Club in April of 1860, Richard Perry, a member of the Morning Star Club, stated in 1887 that his club was "the first club organized" in St. Louis and, as of now, I can't conclusively prove that he's incorrect.  I do believe, however, that the weight of the evidence still supports the Cyclone and Empire Clubs forming prior to June of 1860.  The true significance of this information from the Bulletin is that it is contemporary evidence confirming some of what we already know based on secondary sources as well as the fact that it fills in some of the gaps of our knowledge regarding the Morning Star Club.  

The real interesting thing here is the reference to the "good old social game of base ball" that the author of the piece played in his youth and what that means in the context of the May 4, 1860 reference to town ball and the 1858 Alton references to base ball.  If we parse the text, what we have is a reference to an old game, played previous to 1860, that the author refers to as base ball.  We've already seen, in the Alton references, that there was a bat and ball, safe haven game called base ball played in the St. Louis area in 1858 and, given the geographical, cultural, and economic connections between Alton and St. Louis, I always assumed that if this game was being played in Alton then it was also being played in St. Louis.  This reference may be confirmation of that assumption.  

However, there are at least two things that complicate the matter.  The first is the earlier reference to town ball in the Bulletin.  Speaking of the game as "old" and referring to a "revival" of the sport, the reference gives the impression that a sport called town ball was played in St. Louis and had been for some time.  So the question becomes whether or not we're talking about one game or two.  Were the terms town ball and base ball being used interchangeably in the St. Louis area?  If this is unlikely then we're possibly looking at two different forms of American base ball, town ball and base ball, played in the St. Louis area prior to the arrival of the New York game.        

The second complication is the identity of the author.  Edmund Tobias wrote in The Sporting News that the "first newspaper man to hold out a helping hand to the 'infant industry' of base ball reporting was Col. W.H. Swift, then the editor of the St. Louis Daily Bulletin, who magnanimously consented to publish the reports if gratuitously furnished his paper.  And this was done."  If William Henry Swift was the author of the above reference to base ball then this puts the reference in a different light and it's much easier to explain.  Swift was born in Cayuga Co., New York in 1832, educated in New York public schools, and apprenticed at the Auburn (New York) Advertiser from 1844 to 1849 before moving to St. Louis in 1850.  If he was the author then the reference to the "old social game" and to student play would be to baseball in New York rather than St. Louis.  

Let's see if I can be a bit more clear in my thinking.  Here are the facts:

1. We have an 1858 reference to base ball in the Alton papers.  The description of the game leaves no doubt that it is not the New York game.  

2. We have an 1860 reference to town ball in St. Louis that implies that the game had been played in St. Louis in the past.  We also know that there were clubs organized to play this game.

3. We have an 1860 reference to base ball in St. Louis that directly refers to a club organizing to play the New York game while at the same time implying that the game was played by the author of the article in his youth.  

4.  Since the best available evidence suggests that the New York game was first played in the St. Louis area in the summer of 1859, any references to base ball in St. Louis prior to that is to the St. Louis version of base ball rather than the New York version.    

Trying to reconcile these facts, I could argue that in the antebellum era, prior to the advent of the New York game in the area, various bat and ball games were played in St. Louis and clubs were organized around the playing of those games.  In Alton, the game went by the name of base ball while in St. Louis it was known as town ball.  The reference to the "old social game of base ball" is W.H. Swift speaking about his experiences playing base ball in New York.  

However, we could also possibly argue that we're talking about one bat and ball game referred to by different names.  While certainly this game was malleable and lent itself to rule-change variations, in general there was one bat and ball game around which clubs were formed and this game was known variously, around St. Louis, as town ball or base ball.  Under this theory, the game played in Alton in 1858 and called base ball was the same as that played in St. Louis in 1860 and called town ball.  The main reasoning behind this argument would be the economic, social, and cultural connections between St. Louis and the various satellite communities that sprung up around it.  I find it unlikely that entirely different forms of bat and ball games, going under different names and being played by adults, would develop at the same time in St. Louis and Alton.  It's possible but I just can't imagine any type of evolutionary trend taking place in one of the cities without it immediately impacting the other. 

I was looking through David Block's Baseball Before We Knew It last night to see if there might be anything which could address some of the questions that I have and found this:

From all available indications, the term "town-ball" was simply one of several regional aliases for baseball before 1845.  In those years, the game was a localized and generally unorganized activity.  Two teams in neighboring communities might have called their respective games town-ball but played under different sets of rules.  By the same token, their rules could have been identical, but one might have called it "town-ball" and the other "base ball."

I think that this lends some support to the idea that we could be looking at one game under two names.  Certainly it isn't conclusive or any kind of smoking gun but it at least touches on the possibility.  

There is one more point I'd like to mention before wrapping this up.  If Swift was the author of the article and had some familiarity with the New York game before moving to St. Louis then it appears that he recognized the game that Morning Star Club was playing as the New York game.  However, if Swift was not the author or he had no familiarity with the New York game then the reference to base ball becomes even more interesting because the author is using one term to refer to both the New York game and the St. Louis variation of American base ball.  The implication is that the author did not see enough difference between the two games to distinguish between them.  I think that would be significant in that it would speak to the subtleness of the evolutionary development of baseball.  Not only was there a subtleness to the development of the game itself, as it distinguished itself from other forms of bat and ball games, but also to the spread of the game.  An event which we might see as significant, the advent of the New York game in a specific city or region, was most likely a non-event to those who participated in the game or observed its playing.  The New York game was just one more bat and ball game being played at the time; just one variation of base ball among many.  There was nothing special about it.               

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Spirited Game Of Old Town Ball

All the Deputy Sheriff's, Marshall's and some of the clerks at the Court House went out on Franklin avenue, near Leffingwell avenue, yesterday afternoon, and had a spirited game of old town ball.  We are glad to know that this pleasant game has been revived this season.  A regular club has been organized, and will meet once a week during the season.
-St. Louis Daily Bulletin, May 4, 1860

This is the first reference to town ball in a contemporary St. Louis newspaper that I've found.

Edmund Tobias, in his history, mentions that town ball was popular in St. Louis and played in the antebellum period prior to the advent of the New York game in the city.  Also, there's a hint in his writings that the Excelsior Club had previously been a town ball club.  Richard Perry, in 1887, and Merritt Griswold, in 1911, both mentioned that the Morning Star had played town ball.  So we certainly knew that town ball, or some form of base ball, was being played in St. Louis prior to the introduction of the New York game.  Now, however, we have contemporary evidence that the game was being played in 1860 and that it was a "revival" of a game played in the past.  

The extent to which the game was played, how popular it was, and when it was first played in St. Louis remains unknown.    

Monday, April 13, 2009

Giants On The Ball Field, Part Seven

Henry G. Paschall and C.C. Maffitt were prominent members of the Union, the latter playing good ball, while the former did the looking-on act.  Other members on the active list of this club were Henry Whitmore, Thad G. Smith, E. Filley, Wm. L. Fitzgerald, Emil Meyzenberg, Geo. J. Chapman, Alfred J. Papin, W.A. Brother, Lamartin Lackland, Geo. P. Plant, Jr., Chas January, E.M. Morrison, Thos. Larkin, Ira Stansberry, J.J. Anderson, Ben. W. McCullough..., John Holmes, Jr., Howard Brother, Wm. A. Yore, Hugh Devlin, H.C. Pearce, Frank Barada, Mm. Garesche, Roderick A. Peck, F. W. Gould, Robert Sickles, C.R. Garrison and I.V.W. Dutcher, all representative young business men.

Among the Unions's honorary members were Augustus B. Ewing, General John W. Turner, General E.H. Hyington, E.R. Morris, Prentice Smith, D.M. Houser, Daniel G. Taylor, at one time Mayor of St. Louis, Harvey Delano, C. Bant Carr, Dr. W.T. Helmuta, Wm. L. Hull, D. Robert Barclay, Theo Teaser, Fred M. Colburn, R.H. Spencer, David A. Sutton of the St. Louis Times, Phil G. Ferguson of the Democrat, O. Garrison and W.B. Edgar, the banker.  

The late John F. Walton, Justice of the Peace and member of the State Legislature for four terms, was one of the oldest of the Empire members.  He was quite a good player until he acquired a superbity of flesh, but never failed seeing a game if he could get there.  He looked upon Trick McSorley of the Red Stocking Club as one of the very best of players.
-St. Louis Daily Republic, February 9, 1896

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Giants On The Ball Field, Part Six

Arthur Strong and Eugene Greenleaf were two valuable men in the Union club, both being capable of filling any position-the latter was a fair twirler and the former an active fielder.  Both were engaged in mercantile life.

Harry Berning was one of the heaviest batters in the Union team.

General W.T. Sherman, while his headquarters were located here on Garrison avenue, frequently showed his interest in baseball by his attendance at the games.  The Union club elected him an honorary member and, upon receiving notification of that action, the General indited a graceful and grateful letter thanking the club for "the honor conferred."

One of the finest batters and fielder that St. Louis produced was Zach Mulhall of the Red Stocking club, who is now a prosperous stockman in the Indian Nation, and was strongly recommended to the President for appointment to the office of United States Marshal a short time since.

Andy Blong, now of the James S. Dowling Painting Company, and his brother, Joseph, were both brilliant players in the Red Sox club.  The former has been for several years the Twenty-sixth Ward representative in the Democratic Central Committee.

F.C. Billon, bookkeeper for The Republic, was as pretty and sure a player as the Union Club ever had in the team.

E.F. Finney, assistant secretary to the Board of Public Improvements, played in both the Olympic and Union Clubs.
-St. Louis Daily Republic, February 9, 1896

Happy Easter

Happy Easter to everybody.

I went to see Morrissey the other day and (as always) he was unbelievably great. Opening for Moz was the Courteeners who also put on a great show. They were a very pleasant surprise and I recommend their album, St. Jude. Here's a live clip of them playing a song called What Took You So Long:

And here's probably my favorite solo Morrissey song, Everyday Is Like Sunday (which, sadly, he didn't sing this time):

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Giants On The Ball Field, Part Five

John W. O'Connell, who served long enough in the School Board to entitle him to a pension, was one of the original founders of the Empire Club and was a good, all-around player.  He was president of the club several terms and still retains all his youthful love of the game.

E.C. Simmons, president of the largest hardware company in the world, was a player in the Commercial Club in antebellum days.

Joe P. Carr, the Merchants Exchange caller, was one of the Union Club's most enthusiastic, if not one of its crack players.  He could play any position equally well, but that of spectator was more to his own liking as it afforded opportunities to display his manly form as well as to take in or drop a few shekels.  

Harry Carr was, par excellence, a ball player in every respect.  He was one of the best of fielders and a safe batter.  With him, it was just as much a matter of business to win as it now is to keep straight the books of the Simmons Hardware Company.

William Medart of the Medart Pulley Company was prominent in ball affairs and did as much to promote the game as anyone.  He was the organizer of several clubs and was always in great demand as umpire, in which capacity he witnessed many matches and proved a most correct and satisfactory arbiter.

P.J. Cooney, the Cass avenue carriage and wagon manufacturer, was an Empire player from "way back."

William C. Dyer, principal of the Madison Public School, belonged to the Union Club and kept a neat score.

Robert Franklin, resident manager of the William Barr Dry Goods Company, played in the Morning Star Club, as also did George M. Wright, the cashier.

Chas. F. Gauas, wholesale hat and cap dealer, was one of the Commercial's players.

Louis Schrader, the Franklin avenue cigar manufacturer, was a reliable fielder in the Rowena club and a fine umpire.

C. Orrick Bishop of the Circuit Attorney's office was an active member of the Union club and was managing director at the original organization of the Brown Stocking Club.

Thomas C. Doan, the tenor singer, was secretary of the Union club for a time.

Archie Easton achieved great distinction as a baseman and safe batter in the same club, and Rufus J. Lackland, Jr., played well in right field.  Matt F. Prouty had charge of first base for one or two seasons, and Wm. Freeman, son of W.P. Freeman, a leading commission merchant, was at home in the field or batting, but catcher was his strong position.

Wm. Gorman, whose father was one of the best-known river captains, was a splendid catcher.
-St. Louis Daily Republic, February 9, 1896  

Friday, April 10, 2009

Giants On The Ball Field, Part Four

E.C. Meacham, founder of the Meacham Arms Company, played first with the Olympic and afterward with the Union Club.

H. Clay Sexton was one of the most prominent early ball players, having joined the Empire Club in the '50's before he became Chief of the St. Louis Fire Department.  He never took much stock in his own playing abilities but always stood ready to back up his pet Empire Club.  He was a frequent player prior to the time he became Fire Chief, while connected with his brothers, John and Hugh, in the building business, after which he played the part of regular attendant to perfection.  He was "a boy again" all over at such times, and no one outdid him in demonstrative applause of a good play.

The Empire Club furnished St. Louis with several other prominent members of the Fire Department beside Chief Clay Sexton.  Captain Geo. N. Stevens, who was Chief prior to Sexton's time, and later was Deputy United States Marshal for many years in Judge Treat's court, was one of the earliest of ball enthusiasts, and his son, Charles W. Stevens, now paymaster of the Iron Mountain Railroad, was an exceedingly fine player in the club...Assistant Chiefs John Shockey, Richard Beggs and Eugene Gross were also members.  Adam Wirth, now Captain of one of the engines, was for many years a player in the Empire team, and ranked as the king of first baseman.

One of the best fielders that St. Louis had was Wm. Duncan, now vice president of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.  His brother, Robert, was a superb short-stop.  They played in both the Empire and Union nines, at different times.  "Bob" is connected with the Continental Freight Company at Louisville, Ky.

Wayman McCreery, the well-known vocalist, was a fine ball tosser in his day.  His career began with the Olympic Club and ended with the Union.

Another accomplished singer, who included baseball in his repertoire, was Nat Hazard, one of the most genial and popular society young men of his day.

J.C. Cabanne, secretary of the St. Louis Dairy Company, was one of the sure sphere-splitters of the Union Club that knew how to stop the hottest liner and was a good base player and fine fielder.  

Incredulous as it may seem when looking at the rotund face and form of that busy real estate dealer, Chas. H. Turner, nevertheless it is true that for several seasons he was one of the most active and reliable members of the Union team.  He was good in any position but in those days he was not built on so broad a plan as at present.  He filled both pitcher and catcher positions with credit.
-St. Louis Daily Republic, February 9, 1896

I'm reasonably certain that this is the first reference I've seen to Henry Clay Sexton playing baseball.  Most other sources only mention that he was a member and officer of the Empire Club.  The reference to his playing with the club in the 1850's is also interesting given that the club didn't form until 1860.

Also of note is the description of the Empires as Sexton's "pet."  Given what we know and suspect about the relationship between the Empire Club and the St. Louis Fire Department under Sexton's management, this may be a rather apt description of the club.   

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Giants On The Ball Field, Part Three

The insurance men were fond of relaxation and found it in baseball.  Wallace B. Delafield of Delafield & Snow was one of the best players in the Commercial Club, as was Edwin Fowler.  Martin Collins, an honorary member of the Empire Club was an enthusiast on ball play and offered the first prize in the shape of a championship belt, which is now in the possession of Walter S. Parr, one of the ex-presidents of the Empire Club.  A.W. Howe of the insurance firm of Howe & Capen played in the Union Club.

Among the most active players in early days was Fred W. Benteen, who joined the Union Army at the beginning of the Civil War, through which he served with such distinction that he won the shoulder straps of a Major in the regular army, gained further honors and promotion in Custer's famous cavalry fights on the frontier, and is now living at Atlanta, Ga., with the rank and pay of a retired Brevet Brigadier General, devoting much of his time to literary pursuits, being a contributor to Recreation, a New York magazine.  In his ball playing days in St. Louis he was a member of the Cyclone Club, to which also belonged the well-known Olive street druggist, Morris W. Alexander, who ranked as a first-class runner of bases and wielder of the bat, the latter quality being doubtless acquired by frequent handling of the pestle.  It was in those ball playing days of his youth that "Aleck" made a 'home run' by marrying the daughter of Mr. John Young, who was engaged in the saddlery business on Main street and a member of the Empire Club.  Mr. Young made no pretensions to being a player, but he was an acknowledged authority on the rules and in great demand as umpire, which position he sustained much more creditably and satisfactorily than many of his later day successors.  He is still living in St. Louis on Westmoreland place. 

Ferdinand L. Garesche, now connected with the Edison Electric Light Company, was originally a Cyclonist, and could make the bases as quickly as the best of sprinters.  He was what was then a rara avis, a left-hand batter, and played shortstop to the Queen's taste.  He later joined the Union Club.

The first regular field captain of the Empire Club was Jerry Fruin, late Police Commissioner.  He was a hard hitter, good manager and unsurpassed second baseman, a position which was then, as now, considered by many as the key of the field.  His firm of Fruin, Hambrick & Co. has some large contracts for paving the streets of New York City now under construction.

Robert J. Lucas was the effective left-handed twirler of the Union Club, and could fill any position with credit.

Justice Jas. J. Spaulding was one of the longest term active members of the Empire Club.  He was a fine fielder and superior second baseman, which position he filled after Jerry Fruin's retirement.

James H. Fitzgibbons, the architect and builder, pitched for the Empire Club during several seasons and proved of the greatest value to that organization.  He first began pitching while at Yale College and was one of the hardiest men ever on a ball field.  On one occasion when the success of the Empire Club was at a critical point, he persisted in pitching through four innings although his hand had been cut open and was bleeding.
-St. Louis Daily Republic, February 9, 1896

One thing that's becoming a problem with this series of posts is the tags.  Blogger gives me something like 200 key strokes to tag each post and with the number of players and clubs mentioned it's just not enough.  I'm simply unable to tag every player mentioned in each post and that will create problems when trying to find or retrieve information.  I've been thinking about putting links to some of my better posts in the sidebar and this little problem might force me to do it.  Of course, there's always the search function.  

Anyway, on to some of the things that I found interesting about the above information:

-I didn't know that Ferdinand Garesche and Robert Lucas were lefties.  While Lucas seems to fit into the pattern of the emergence of left-handed pitchers in the later part of the 1860's, I'm not sure what to think about Garesche.  I have no idea how much of a rare bird a left-handed batter was during the antebellum era.

-James Fitzgibbons (who, some may know, I've often confused with Gerald Fitzgibbon and James Fitzgerald) was a Yalie.  Somewhere (perhaps in The National Game) there's a reference to Yale coming to St. Louis to play baseball but I've never been able to run it down.  Fitzgibbons (not to be confused, remember, with Fitzgibbon or Fitzgerald) most likely played a role in bringing the Yale Club to St. Louis.    

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Giants On The Ball Field, Part Two

The legal fraternity was numerously represented in amateur days, and among others of that profession who took part in the sport was Judge E.T. Farish, whose present proportions hardly vouch for the assertion that he was then a very active and sprightly man.  Judge W.V.N. Bay of the state Supreme bench was an honorary member of the Empire Club, and witnessed every game that he possibly could.  He was a New Yorker by birth, and prior to coming West was a ball player on the banks of the Hudson River.  John S. Fullerton, a prominent member of the bar, Brigadier General in the Union Army and later Postmaster of this city, belonged to the Cyclone Club.  General Basil Duke of the Confederate Army, who was practicing his profession in St. Louis at the opening of the war was also a member of the Cyclone Club as was Dr. Gratz Moses, Rufus Gamble, Alfred Bernoudy, Recorder of Deeds, and Edward Bernoudy, whose widow is and has been for many years connected with the office of the Superintendent of Public Schools.  John T. Davis, the late millionaire dry goods merchant, played with the same club, and in after years, when he became head of the house founded by his father, Samuel C. Davis, organized and equipped a club of his own employees, gave it the name of his firm and was a playing member himself.  Another Cyclonist was Joseph Gamble, now occupying a pulpit in an Eastern State.  And still another was Edward Bredell, a scion of one of the leading St. Louis families, who joined Mosby's men in Virginia.  The Mathews brothers, Leonard and W.H., leading druggists, were of the same club, as also was the third brother, E.O. Mathews, the last player of the family who became a Commodore in the United States navy.  Other members were Alex Grossman, son of a United States army captain, Willie C. Walker, a leading wholesale boot and shoe merchant, and John Waddell, nephew of General D.M. Frost, who after the collapse of the Confederacy returned to Missouri and became State Insurance Commissioner.  The noblest Cyclonist of them all is still living in St. the person of Missouri's National Democratic Committeeman, Colonel J. Griff Prather.
 -St. Louis Daily Republic, February 9, 1896 

At this point I should probably state that I find it increasingly difficult to remember what information I've posted on the blog and what I've saved for various other projects.  A great deal of the work I've done on the antebellum clubs and their members I've not posted for proprietary reasons.  Most of the information in the Republic article is not new to me but I think much of it hasn't been posted here yet and should be new to regular readers of this blog (all four of you).  The exciting thing about this article is that, beside being a extraordinary source of information, I'm getting a chance to share some information with you that I've held back for various reasons.

As an example of this complicated relationship between my research, this blog, and my other projects, I don't think I've ever posted anything about Jonathan Davis.  However, over the last year I've learned a great deal about him and have a nice little biographical sketch of him written up.  I knew that Davis was the son of Samuel C. Davis and took over his father's business.  What was new to me was the information about Davis starting the Samuel C. Davis Base Ball Club.  That's great stuff and I'll have to incorporate it into my other work.  It actually impacts to areas of my research: the history of the Cyclone Club and the history of postbellum amateur mercantile clubs.  
I also like the description of Griff Prather as "the noblest Cyclonist of them all."  That's definitely getting edited into his biographical sketch.

I should mention that the "John S. Fullerton" mentioned in the article as a member of the Cyclone Club is actually Joseph Scott Fullerton.  Also, "Alex Grossman" is Alex Crosman, the only baseball player that I know of who was eaten by sharks.            

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Bit Of A Preview

There are certainly days when I'm rather bored with blogging and think about chucking the whole project and then there are days like today when I'm extraordinarily excited about the information that I'm going to be posting over the next few weeks.  In light of my good mood, I thought I'd give a few hints about what's coming up here at TGOG.

First, of course, I have the rest of the fantastic Daily Republic article to post.  It's just great stuff full of information on antebellum clubs and ballplayers as well as on the postbellum amateur era.  I'm breaking it up into something like eight or nine posts.  It's a long article but well worth the read.  

After that, I'll be posting some stuff that I'm really excited about.  In Tobias' series on the history of St. Louis baseball, he mentioned that the St. Louis Daily Bulletin had published some accounts of antebellum games.  Well, today, I finally got a chance to take a look at issues of the Daily Bulletin from late April to October of 1860.  And Tobias wasn't lying.

Previously, we only had contemporary sources for one antebellum game (the July 9, 1860 match between the Cyclones and the Morning Stars) but now, thanks to Tobias' hint, I have sources for six more.  I also found specific references to town ball and a town ball club, two cricket matches, and the first meetings of the Morning Star and Commercial Base Ball Clubs.  Also, I found a reference to the election of officers for the Empire Club.  The most significant thing I found today, I believe, is a reference to base ball in a similar context to that of the 1858 Alton references.  All in all, very cool stuff.

So keep coming back because this is going to be great month here at the old blog.       

Giants On The Ball Field, Part One

You will be surprised when you read below that this dignified bank president, that railroad manager or that rushing business man was once a promising backstop or a "reliable man in the field."  The appended chapter of local history is rich in happy recollection and interst.  There are judges, merchants, bankers, lawyers, engineers, capitalists-scores of busy men of to-day who were marvels in the baseball field.

Asa W. Smith, seventh son of the pioneer actor-manager of the West, Sol Smith, was the founder and for many years president of the old Union Baseball Club, an organization that ranked high in anti-professional days.  At the time of his death, in 1874, by drowning at Biddeford Pool, Maine, where he was spending his summer vacation, he was a member of the banking firm of Kelligher & Smith, and ranked high both in social and business circles.  Probably no one of the young St. Louisans could have been taken away whose loss would have caused such general and poignant sorrow.  He was a friend and companion, whose qualities of head and heart were of the finest character, and in business he had already proven successful.  He was an ardent devotee of the national game, and a No. 1 player.  Two of his brothers belonged to the same club, and another, Mark L. Smith, was one of the finest comedians of the country.  

Judge Shepherd Barclay of the State Supreme Court was another of the brilliant players of the Union Club, ad sustained the difficult position of pitcher with great effect.  He was also a fine fielder.

On February 9, 1895, the St. Louis Daily Republic published an article entitled "These Busy St. Louis Men Were Giants On The Amateur Ball Field."  This article, the beginning of which is produced above, mentions well over one hundred St. Louis baseball players from the antebellum pioneer era and the postbellum amateur era.  The article also gives some biographical information on about eighty of these players.  I'm going to post the entire article here over the next few days.

Once you've read the entire article, I'm sure that you'll agree with me that this is one of the most significant sources of information that exists for the era.  The only other sources that presents so much unified information is the Tobias series and Spink's The National Game.  The 1895 Republic article is truly extraordinary in its scope and relevance.  

I should note that this significant discovery was the work of John Maurath of the Missouri Civil War Museam and he was kind enough to pass it along to me.  I can't thank him enough.

Edit:  No more late night posting for me.  I not only misidentified the paper the article was in (the Daily Republic, not the Republican) but it also appears I had some issues with the concept of noun/verb agreement.  Not to mention my normal problems with spelling.  On the bright side, my English As A Second Language class is going well.       

Monday, April 6, 2009

Maybe It Was Something In The Water

A match game of base ball was played on Friday last, between the Kunstausstellungsgebaude and Magnolia clubs of this place, in which the former got beaten.  That name is enough to beat anything.
-The Edwardsville Intelligencer, May 19, 1870

So what's the deal with club names in Edwardsville.  First there was the Chargoggaggogmanchoggogogg and here's the Kunstausstellungsgebaude.  It's all fun and games until you have to type it out.  I will say that at least Kunstausstellungsgebaude appears to be a real word.  I played around with a German-English dictionary but couldn't figure out what it means.   

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Red Caps First Match?

The Red cap base ball club, of Edwardsville, will play the Eureka club, of Brighton, at Alton, on Saturday next.
-The Edwardsville Intelligencer, July 13, 1871

This was, most likely, the first match game for the Red Caps, an Edwardsville club formed by the merger of the Magnolia and Chargog clubs during the first week of July 1871.     

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Magnolia Club Celebrates Its Anniversary

On Thursday evening, Nov. 24, the Magnolia Base Ball club, of Edwardsville, will give their first annual ball at Kinder's Hall.  Tickets of admission, $1,50.
-The Edwardsville Intelligencer, November 17, 1870

The ball given last week at Kinder's hall, by the Magnolia Base Ball Club of this place, on the occasion of their first anniversary, was a pleasant affair, was well attended, and passed off quietly and to the satisfaction of all concerned.
-The Edwardsville Intelligencer, December 1, 1870

Friday, April 3, 2009

How To Win Love

If you wish to be woman's love, her hero, her ideal, her delight, her utter rest and ultimatum, you must attune your soul to fine issues-you must bring out the angel in you, and keep the brute under.  It is not that you shall stop making shoes and begin to write.  No, sir.  You may make shoes, you may run engines, you may carry coals; you may blow the huntsman's horn, hurl the base ball, follow the plow, smite the anvil; your face might be brown, your veins knotted, your hands grimed, and yet you may be a hero...
-Centralia Sentinel, October 22, 1863

I'll spare you the rest of the advice on how to win a woman's love but I will say that it has something to do with being like a June morning or a white water lily.  The interesting thing here is the Civil War-era reference to baseball.  Since they're rather rare in St. Louis area newspapers, I thought I'd pass it along.  

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Base Ball Nuisance

The base ball nuisance commenced here again on Sunday last.
-The Edwardsville Intelligencer, April 8, 1874

We hear several complaints about boys bathing in ponds near private dwellings in the city...It is as great a nuisance as base ball on Sundays, and ought to be stopped in some manner.  But it seems that it is not the duty of the city marshal nor has he any authority to make arrests in such cases, although he is an eye-witness to the offence.  Base-ballers may come here from all parts of the country every Sunday during the summer months and they can go through the streets singing ribald songs, swearing and even knocking the ministers' hats off with a ball as they go into church and yet the city police is invested with no power to make arrests...Fifteen years ago the people of Edwardsville would no more think of tolerating base ball in the town on Sunday than they would a circus.
-The Edwardsville Intelligencer, July 8, 1874

The Intelligencer has no particular objection to base ball playing but it objects to the manner in which it is done in this city.  Every Sunday the town is overrun with as rowdy a set of fellows as ever congregated together.  Base ball seems to be preeminently suited to this class of people.  When they retire from the field, they go through the streets yelling, cussing and singing to the great annoyance of law-abiding citizens.  A batch was here from Collinsville last Sunday and the way they conducted themselves was a disgrace...Where does our town police keep themselves on Sunday?
-The Edwardsville Intelligencer, October 21, 1874

I'm not sure how serious to take these accounts of the behavior of amateur clubs given the Intelligencer's anti-baseball editorial stance but, if accurate, they're rather colorful.  And it really is a shame that the Intelligencer took this anti-baseball stance because in the early 1870's they were covering baseball to a certain extent and it would have been nice if their coverage had grown and developed.  While they returned to a positive coverage of the game in the 1880's, it would have been nice to have had another source for baseball from this era.  

Also, I believe that this is the earliest reference to a Collinsville baseball club that I've come across.    

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Joseph Hollenback

I don't think I've written much, if anything, about Joseph Hollenback.  According to E.H. Tobias, Hollenback was the primary force behind the formation of the Empire Club in 1860.  Al Spink confirmed that Hollenback was at the first meeting of the club and was elected club secretary.  So based just on this information alone, we can say that Hollenback was a reasonably important figure in the history of St. Louis baseball.


However, the problem is that we don't have much more information about Hollenback other than what Tobias and Spink gives us.  After researching the subject for several years and chasing several dead ends and false leads, I've gotten to the point where I've organized the information that I have about Hollenback according to what I know to be fact, what I believe to be probable, and what I believe to be possible.

What I know for certain about Hollenback is that he was born around 1836 in New York state.  In 1860, he was living in St. Louis at Mrs. Boston's boarding house, was single, and was working as a deputy constable.  Hollenback was at the first meeting of the Empire Club on April 16, 1860 and was selected as the club's first secretary.

What is probable about Hollenback is that he was living in St. Louis prior to 1860, that he played baseball in New York prior to moving to St. Louis, and that he played a primary role in the founding of the Empire Club. 


What is possible about Hollenback is that he served with Captain Loeblein's Company A, 10th Regiment of the Enrolled Missouri Militia in 1864 and that he died in St. Louis in 1866.

That's really about all I know (or think I know) about Hollenback.  I can't even confirm that his last name was spelled "Hollenback." 

Tobias writes that Hollenback was a "New Yorker" who "had played with the old Knickerbocker Club" before coming to St. Louis.  While I can confirm that Hollenback was born in New York state, I can not confirm that he ever lived in New York City.  I also can not confirm that he played with the Knickerbockers and would go so far as to say that it is highly unlikely that he was ever a member of the Knickerbocker Club.  I also have not seen any primary source material that confirms Hollenback playing for any club in the New York area.  However, Tobias is reasonably reliable source, was a member of the Empire Club, and had access to their records and I believe that he's generally correct in stating that Hollenback lived and played baseball in New York.  I just can't prove it.  I also believe that Tobias has some reason to write that the "origins of the Empire Club was mainly due to Joseph Hallenbeck" but again I've found nothing that backs Tobias up on this point.  

The information about Hollenback's military service and date of death is unconfirmed but simply feels right.  If Hollenback joined the army in 1864 and died in 1866, it would explain why there is no mention of him as a member of the Empire Club in the post-war era.

The lack of verifiable information about Joseph Hollenback has been one of the most frustrating things that I've had to deal with while researching the origins of the New York game in St. Louis.  However, the research isn't done and I'm certain that more information will, at some point, come to light.